The Daily Telegraph

Ban Tiktok before it destroys democracy, urges Axel Springer boss

- By Ben Woods

TIKTOK is a “tool of espionage” for the Chinese communist party that should be outlawed by the West, the chief executive of German publishing giant Axel Springer has claimed.

Mathias Döpfner says his business has resisted working with Tiktok because he fears sensitive personal data will be shared with the government in

Beijing. Speaking at the annual Codecon technology conference, Mr Döpfner said: “You are either with Tiktok, or you are not.

“What happens here is if we cooperate with them, we would hand over very sensitive personal and behavioura­l data to a company that is controlled by the communist party and by a totalitari­an government that uses all the data to improve their face recognitio­n techniques and to improve and change other things.

“It is, of course, a tool of espionage ... And I think that we should just have this kind of self-respect, and that is why I concretely think Tiktok should be banned in every democracy. I just think that it is insane not to do that.”

Axel Springer is the publishing house behind Bild – Germany’s most popular newspaper – and Die Welt, as well as online business publicatio­n Business Insider and political website Politico.

Mr Döpfner said: “We are in Germany, and in Europe, the only bigger publishing company that does not cooperate with Tiktok. I cannot guarantee you how long we can continue that because we may be at a point where we simply cannot afford it because we lose too much air in young audiences.”

Mr Döpfner’s stance contrasts with that of the BBC, which has posted hundreds of videos on the app where it has over 1.4m followers. The state broadcaste­r has enthusiast­ically adopted the platform as younger viewers desert its news bulletins.

An Ofcom report earlier this year found that BBC One and BBC Two, until last year the most-watched news source among 12 to 15-year-olds, had fallen to fifth place. Instagram was the number one news source among “Gen Z”, followed closely by Tiktok.

The prospect of an US ban on the app was raised in July by a member of the communicat­ions regulator while this month the UK Parliament opted to close its Tiktok account under the instructio­n of MPS, who had demanded “credible assurances” Beijing would not seize control of data from the account.

Tiktok was contacted for comment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom